Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007 • Shaffer Wind Project

Lassen Municipal Utility District moves one step closer to becoming more environmentally friendly with its plan to acquire wind energy.

The CMS Generation Company Shaffer Mountain Wind Project was the main topic of discussion at the annual Lassen Municipal Utility District board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

LMUD acquires power from multiple sources around the country, and the wind project represents a step toward producing green power.

Fred Giffels CEO of Hawks, Giffels and Pullin gave a presentation on the project. The company is the lead developer.

Giffels started off by giving some background on the project, explaining who CMS Generation was, how they are currently connected to Lassen County and LMUD, and the current status of the project, of which LMUD has already agreed to be a part.

CMS Generation, formed in 1986, is an independent power production company. It is also a subsidiary of CMS Energy, an international energy company based out of Jackson, Mich. CMS Generation also partially owns and operates Honey Lake Power, a biomass plant located near Wendel, Calif.

The wind project will mean more megawatts of power available to LMUD at any given time, which will mean fewer blackouts in the future and less overall cost to customers. Since the project is still in the preliminary stages, an accurate estimate of how much the project will cost is still unavailable. That information will be made available at future LMUD meetings.

The project currently looks promising, Giffels said, with four meteorological towers up to measure wind velocity and weather conditions. CMS also installed one mini SoDar tower unit, which is used to measure specific weather conditions like turbulence and atmospheric pressure.

LMUD requested the California Energy Commission designate an energy zone on the 19,000 acres for the project, which will help protect the area from trespass by any unauthorized people.

“We are here to inform Lassen County and the public that CMS Generation is ready to enter the next phase of the project,” Giffels said. “This phase involves getting permits for the project and getting public comment about the project.”

The permitting phase will require a plan of development to be submitted to the Bureau of Land Management’s Eagle Lake Field Office, as well as obtaining more accurate cost estimates from local building firms.

As the wind turbines will be the primary source of power generation, CMS and LMUD will be refining the layout to obtain the maximum amount of wind production from the area. During the winter, the companies will be conducting various field studies, including avian, cultural, biological, botanical vegetation and grazing studies.

The power lines used in the project will also transmit power through LMUD’s lines to Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Those lines are to be finalized by the summer of 2007.

As for the wind project, the target construction date is projected for spring through fall of 2008. CMS plans to have it up and producing power by winter of 2008.